If you’re reading this article about things to do in Buon Ma Thuot, congrats on being one of the few foreign travelers who have discovered a hidden gem in Vietnam’s Central Highlands.
Lying serenely amid mystic mountains, tremendous waterfalls, and vast woodlands, Buon Ma Thuot surely has its own charms. This beautiful destination has until now remained quite unfamiliar to both foreign and domestic tourists alike.
What does this city have to offer then? A bunch! Buon Ma Thuot prides itself on its gorgeous natural landscape, laid-back city vibes, unique ethnic cultures, and vast coffee plantations that contribute to making Vietnam the 2nd largest coffee exporter in the world.
Are you ready to discover further? Scroll down for the top 10 things to do in Buon Ma Thuot below.
1. Visit Trung Nguyen Coffee Village (Lang Ca Phe Trung Nguyen)
Address: 163 Ly Thai To Street, Buon Ma Thuot City
The ideal place to enjoy a heartful breakfast and an aromatic cup of coffee, this so-called Coffee Village is actually NOT an inhabited village as some first-time visitors might have mistaken. Instead, it’s a 22km2 piece of land featuring a coffee shop with outdoor sitting areas, an artificial waterfall, a lovely stream with lots of fish, and a neatly trimmed flower garden.
Several options for local-style all-day breakfast include rice noodles and rice cakes. They also offer an extensive list of Trung Nguyen coffee drinks (a popular coffee brand in Vietname) ranging from the strongest ones to the milder versions with condensed milk.
2. Explore the awe-inspiring waterfalls
Words can’s explain the sheer beauty of waterfalls in this Central Highlands area. Visiting at least one of them is thus a highly-recommended thing to do in Buon Ma Thuot.
Most waterfalls are located at least 20 km from the city center. You can either take a taxi, rent a motorbike to ride there by yourself, or join an organized tour with transportation and English-speaking tour guides. I myself had a great day biking, rafting, and soft trekking at the Dray Nur and Gia Long waterfalls following such a group tour.
Other beautiful waterfalls near Buon Ma Thuot include Dray Sap, Trinh Nu, and Thuy Tien. Take your time to explore them one by one!
3. Visit a coffee/pepper/fruit farm
Dak Lak province, in which Buon Ma Thuot is situated, is famous for its coffee, peppers, nuts, avocados, and durians.
During my trip, I paid a short visit to a local coffee plantation and had the chance to learn how locals grow and produce coffee here. One of the most hilarious moments was when they ushered us onto a nameless farming vehicle and drove deep into the heart of the farm. The owner was so kind as to invite us into his home and let us sample some avocados he had just harvested.
Visitors can buy fresh produce at these farms at a much lower price. The best thing is they all come straight from their farms to our tables!
4. Hang out at Buon Ma Thuot’s book street in the evening
A narrow street dedicated to book vendors by day and coffee shops by night, Buon Ma Thuot’s book street is definitely one of the city’s highlights. I took a stroll here after an active day at the waterfalls and was instantly drawn to the laid-back vibes of this city.
Right in the middle of the street lay a makeshift stage where everyone could sign up to perform. To be honest, I never thought highly of random strangers’ voices before. Nonetheless, as I was sitting inside a cozy coffee shop opposite this stage that evening, everyone who came to sing somehow all possessed amazing voices! It ended up being quite an entertaining experience.
5. Climb to the top of Nui Da Voi (Elephant Rock)
For hundreds of years, Nui Da Voi has played an important spiritual role in the lives of local M’nong people. There are actually two rocks, called the Mother Elephant and the Father Elephant, since their curvy shapes very much resemble an elephant’s back.
As you climb to the top, treat yourself to the breathtaking beauty of the surrounding rural landscape with majestic mountains and vast woodlands.
Warning! Do not climb up here during or after the rain as it can be super slippery. There’s also nothing to cling to, so only climb up here if you feel safe enough.
6. Visit the World Coffee Museum in Buon Ma Thuot
Curious to explore the history and development of coffee around the world? This World Coffee Museum is exactly where you should be!
The museum features intriguing exhibitions with a wide variety of coffee pots, grinding machines, and other coffee-related tools from around the world. My favorite spot is its basement which looks kinda like a secret library. Here you can sit back, relax and browse through hundreds of books about coffee, business and world history.
The walking tour is also worth taking as the tour guide can explain to you more about the meaning of each item on display. And finally, don’t forget to pop into the ground-floor coffee shop to enjoy a hot cup of coffee from Trung Nguyen – one of Vietnam’s most famous coffee brands.
7. Explore ethnic minority villages around Buon Ma Thuot
From Buon Ma Thuot, you can easily visit Ê Đê villages nearby and learn more about their culture.
The nearest and also most popular one is Ako Dhong (aka Buon Co Thon), which is situated about 2km from Buon Ma Thuot’s city center. Here you will get to see the Ê Đê’s traditional long houses with bamboo walls and floors, distinctive musical instruments, delicate handicrafts, and various spiritual items of decoration.
8. Chill at Lak Lake
Lak Lake was initially not on the top of my list as I thought there’s not much to do here. But since the locals kept recommending it to me, I became gradually intrigued and at last, decided to check it out.
Situated around 56 km from Buon Ma Thuot, Lak Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. It’s a decent getaway destination for those seeking peace and tranquility after a hard working day. Visiting Lak Lake during sunrise or sunset gives the best opportunity for taking excellent photos. Check out mine below 🙂
If you want to spend a night full of rustic charm here, don’t forget to check out the instagrammable Lak Tented Camp. This property features lake-view tented lodges and lakefront wooden bungalows where you can stay close to nature while still enjoying the comfort of ensuite bathrooms and modern facilities.
Lak Tented Camp also features a highly-recommended onsite restaurant. Nestled inside a traditional M’nong stilt house, the restaurant serves both Vietnamese and Western cuisine using as many local ingredients as they can. For those who feel more active, walking and biking tours to nearby villages and woods are also available upon request.
9. Try specialty coffee at SOUL Roastery Buon Ma Thuot
Address: 83 Nguyen Khuyen St., Buon Ma Thuot City
Opening hours: 7 AM – 10 PM
SOUL Roastery is a famous gathering place for coffee enthusiasts in Buon MaThuot. It’s a modern coffee house with a wide variety of curious coffee-inspired drinks including cold brews, machine coffee, ice blend, phin coffee and so on. Check out some notable items on its menu:
- Lychee rose cold brew
- Egg coffee
- Coconut latte
- Mocha peppermint
- Fine robusta
- Specialty arabica Vietnam
10. Watch elephants responsibly at Yok Đôn National Park
Elephants have long been captured and used for transporting logs by the ethnic minorities in Vietnam’s Central Highlands. With Dak Lak’s increasing tourism activities since the 2000s, elephants are then forced to carry tourists and work extra long hours with very few days off.
Fortunately, in December 2021, the province signed an agreement with Animals Asia to promote elephants’ welfare. Since then, private owners of these elephants have gradually stopped all riding activities and released them back into nature.
Instead of riding elephants, tourists can now learn about their behaviors, follow their trails and watch them roam freely in the forest by booking a sustainable tour such as this half-day elephant experience tour at Yok Don National Park.
Top 10 things to do in Buon Ma Thuot
Alright, now that you’ve had an overview of the top 10 things to do in Buon Ma Thuot, which ones would you add to your bucket list? Don’t forget to leave a comment below to let me know if this article has been helpful.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links that allow me to earn a small commission upon your purchase but do not incur any extra charge for you.